There’s no law that says you must have a home inspection completed before purchasing a home. And there’s a good chance that a home inspection won’t turn up anything so dire that the deal will fall through. Nevertheless, a home inspection is money well spent, as there is a chance of it uncovering a problem that could cost you thousands of dollars in the future.

Your real estate agent will likely recommend a home inspection as one of the conditions in your offer. This means that the sale of the home is conditional on receiving a favourable report from your home inspector and that you can legally back out of the deal should the inspector turn up anything seriously wrong with the home.

It’s a good idea to get a referral from your real estate agent or a trusted friend. Choose an inspector who is accredited through the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI) or the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors (CAHPI). According to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), there aren’t any mandatory licensing or certification processes for home inspectors, meaning that just about anyone can provide home inspection services. Choose wisely!

Depending on the size of the home, a home inspection will take approximately three hours and cost around $350-$500. As the potential homebuyer, you will accompany the inspector as he makes his way through the house. Pay attention during this process as a good inspector will offer helpful tips on home maintenance.
A home inspector will do a visual inspection of the home’s various systems, both interior and exterior. He will climb onto the roof to get a good look at the condition of the shingles, the gutters, downspouts, chimney and eaves. He will examine visible foundation inside and out for cracks. Inside the home, the inspector will check electrical, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, plumbing, insulation, flooring, ceilings, walls and windows.

At the end of the inspection, the inspector will provide you with a written report of his findings, which will include any items that require immediate attention and also may include items that will need repair or maintenance in the near future.

Keep in mind that a home inspection offers no guarantee on the home you have purchased. As always, it’s “buyer beware.”